What are Spam Text Messages

spam text messages

We are constantly on our phones, checking for messages, contacting friends, getting directions, and using apps for work and play. Phones are our constant companions and trusted sources of information.

On average, adults ages 24-52 send and receive 50 texts per day. As a result, our guards are lower for incoming information. We trust our phones for so many purposes that we automatically assume that information on our phones is correct.

Unfortunately, it’s not unusual to receive spam text messages that seek to take advantage of that impulse to trust our phones. Few people take the time to confirm the sources of incoming messages with phone lookup tools that could prevent the loss of money and sensitive personal information. Surveys show that $86 million was lost to such scams in a recent year, and young people who spend the most time on their mobile devices were those most likely to be victims.

What are Spam Text Messages?

Spam text messages are sent in big batches to phone numbers gathered on the dark web. They are not tailored to the individual representative but sent to a wide range of people hoping to catch even a few unaware. Less sophisticated spam texts may plant malware on your mobile device.

Spam text messages are much like spam emails:

  • Spam texts often sound urgent, requiring immediate attention.
  • Spam texts appeal to our emotions, including greed, anger, fear, or generosity.
  • Spam texts often include links to click on that lead the recipient to spoofed websites that can collect PINs, passwords, or other sensitive personal information.
  • Information collected by successful spam texts can allow scammers to steal money and information from those they trick.

How to Recognize Text Spam

It’s challenging to train yourself to stop and think about every text you receive, but that’s what’s necessary to prevent falling for spam text scams. According to the Federal Trade Commission, spam texts have common traits, such as:

  • Spam texts offer low-interest credit cards.
  • Spam texts may offer a link to help pay off student loans.
  • Spam texts may claim to be from a delivery service trying to confirm your order or to get information on delivery instructions.
  • Spam texts may show a fake invoice and tell you to click on their link to confirm payment or reach customer service.

Text scams will be with us as long as we have smartphones, so our best defense is to train ourselves to spot them. Along with recognizing the emotional, urgent nature of their content, also watch out for:

  • Look closely at the sender’s number. Spam texts may spoof the number they’re coming from: at times, they may appear to come from your phone.
  • Spam texts may include misspelled keywords to avoid spam filters, so read carefully.
  • Spam texts may link to unconventional web addresses, including those that are a string of words rather than a company name (e.g., www.payoffstudentloans.com rather than www.citibank.com).

spam text messages

Ways to Avoid Spam Texts

A phone lookup tool can be time-consuming to use every time you receive a text or SMS that you don’t recognize. While that’s still a good strategy for blocking spam, there are many apps and built-in functions that will help to reduce the influx of spam texts.

One of the benefits of mobile apps, especially the ones that specialize in blocking software, can help you avoid the worst of text scams. Look at your phone settings and try to allow texts from those from your contact list only. On iPhones, go to Settings for Messages and enable the filter for unknown senders. On Android phones, go to Messages, then Settings, and click on the three dots to enable Spam Protection. These steps should limit texts to verifiable sources.

Contact your mobile carrier to ask if they offer an additional spam filter for your line that will reduce the number of spam texts that get through.

Reduce the number of companies that have your cell number by refusing text updates and not including your number on orders placed with online merchants.

Most importantly, do not respond to or answer calls or messages from unknown numbers, and consider blocking spam calls to enhance your security. If you receive a message that says you have a package delivery, do not respond, even to say it’s not your package. Interacting with these fake messages or calls, especially without spam call blocking measures on your devices, can lead your phone number to circulate among scammers, increasing the risk of further spam and potential fraud.

Why You Should Avoid Spam Texts at all Costs

Spam texts are not just annoyances; they can be costly traps. Losing a small sum of money to a spam message that promises a deal that’s too good to be true is a hassle. But losing your identity is a long-term headache that is difficult to recover. Scammers collect data on individuals and sell it on the dark web. Suppose they can connect your phone number, birth date, and social security number. In that case, they may be able to hack into important accounts or steal your phone number and reset your passwords before draining your accounts.

Malware planted in text messages is likewise a nightmare. It can be programmed to send your passwords and PIN to the spammer; it can lock up your device and hold it hostage until a ransom is paid, or it can spread through your contact list by sending spam messages to others ruining your personal and professional reputation. It’s best to take action and block potential spam whenever possible, then proceed cautiously any time an unfamiliar message is received.